Cessna Caravan | www.cessna.com
Whether you're just one lottery ticket away from your dream machine or you've got cash burning a hole in your pocket, turbine power is the ultimate way to go. Turbines aren't for the financially faint of heart, but the combination of smooth operation with gobs of power and nearly flawless reliability take performance to the next level. If you're ready to make the jump to turbine power, there are a lot of choices spanning a wide range of needs and mission requirements. Here's a quick look at the current crop of factory-built, turbine-powered aircraft well suited for single-pilot owner-operators.
Unpressurized, Fixed-Gear Load Haulers
Need to carry more, get into the backcountry, or operate on water? Fixed-gear, single-engine turboprops are ideal for anyone with a need to transport a load of people or cargo under a wide variety of conditions. Since they're unpressurized, these aircraft are ideal for operations mostly below 12,000 feet, and can get into short unimproved strips or convert to floats.
With over 14 million flight hours under its belt, the Cessna Caravan is the granddaddy of the big, fixed-gear turboprop load haulers. Introduced in 1984, the total Caravan fleet is over 2,200 airplanes and today consists of two models: the 675 and the Grand Caravan. The 675 features a 675 hp PT6-114A engine that delivers a top speed of 186 ktas. Top the tanks with 332 gallons of Jet A, take up 1,071 pounds of payload and travel for 949 nm at 10,000 feet. Seating can be configured with eight to 14 places with capacity for 325 pounds of baggage in 32 cubic feet of dedicated space. Up front, a G1000 system makes the airplane single-pilot friendly. The Caravan needs 2,055 feet to clear a 50-foot obstacle on takeoff, and is certified to 25,000 feet. Direct operating cost is estimated to be $412/hour ($2.40/nm). Base price is $1.89 million, with typically equipped prices around $2.11 million. The Grand Caravan is the most popular model with 1,800 aircraft in the fleet. It has a stretched fuselage, seating for up to 14 and a base price of $1.93 million. Amphibious and float options are available for both airplanes.
Quest Kodiak | www.questaircraft.com
First certified in July of 2007, the Kodiak looks like a small version of the Cessna Caravan. But, don't let looks fool you, the Kodiak is a completely new, clean-sheet design. Load it up with 320 gallons of Jet A, 1,391 pounds of people and cargo, and the 750 hp flat-rated PT6A-34 engine will launch the Kodiak in just over 1,000 feet of ground roll. Normal cruise is 172 knots with 5.7 hours of endurance and 979 nm of range. Slow to 134 knots and cruise for 8.1 hours while covering 1,113 nm. The unpressurized Kodiak is certified to a maximum altitude of FL250. The Kodiak can be fitted to carry up to 10 occupants, or configured for total luxury with six executive-style seats and a lot of room for baggage. A big 49.25x49.25-inch rear cargo door makes loading big items in the aft cabin easy. An optional TKS deicing system is available. Up front, a three-screen Garmin G1000 system graces the panel. If you want to get on the water, the Kodiak is certified for amphibious and pure floats. The base price is $1.67 million.
Single-Engine, Pressurized Turboprops
Tuck in the gear, add pressurization to get up into the flight levels, and you'll find that single-engine turboprops provide some of the most efficient and cost-effective travel available.
The six-seat Piper Meridian is the most economical of the single-engine pressurized turboprops. The PT6-42A, 500 hp flat-rated engine and sleek aerodynamics allow the Meridian to cruise at 260 ktas and cover 1,000 nm with standard IFR reserves and a fuel capacity of only 170 gallons. The maximum certified altitude of FL300 clears most weather. Baggage is carried in a netted area behind the seats and is limited to 100 pounds. The cockpit is fitted with a three-screen Garmin G1000 and autopilot system. Standard equipment includes a wing-mounted radar system with a 10-inch antenna. Ice protection is provided by deice boots and an "always-on" inertial separator system for the engine. At gross weight and sea level, the Meridian requires a takeoff roll of only 1,650 feet and 2,438 feet to clear a 50-foot obstacle. Full-fuel payload is 562 pounds. A 5.5 psi pressure differential maintains a comfortable cabin. Standard price is $2.072 million.
|Piper Meridian | www.piper.com|
Designed by Walter Extra, the German-made, all-composite, six-seat Extra 500 is aimed at buyers looking for turbine reliability, low cost and long range. Powered by a 450 hp Rolls-Royce 250-B17F/2, the Extra 500 is certified to a maximum altitude of FL250, but produces its maximum speed of 226 ktas at about 14,000 feet. Full engine power is limited to five minutes at takeoff with 380 hp available at sea level on a continuous basis. Fill the tanks with 172 gallons of Jet A, climb to FL250 and at a normal cruise speed of 190 ktas, get 7.9 hours of endurance—enough to travel 1,450 nm with a 45-minute reserve. Slow to the maximum endurance power of 40% and achieve a whopping 9.6 hours of endurance with a range of 1,588 nm at about 170 ktas. Full-fuel payload is 390 pounds. A dedicated baggage compartment behind the seats is capable of handling up to 198 pounds of bags. The cockpit features large windows for excellent visibility and the two-screen Avidyne Entegra 9 avionics system. Standard equipment includes an electrically anti-iced, five-blade, MT propeller and deice boots for the leading edges. Price is $1.345 million.
|Extra 500 | www.extraaircraft.com|
Daher-Socata TBM 850
With a top speed of 320 ktas, the French-made TBM 850 is among the fastest turboprops around—single or twin. With six seats, well-harmonized controls and European-style leather interior, the TBM is often compared to a Ferrari, and it's easy to see why. Powered by a P&WC PT6A-66D, the TBM 850 can climb to its maximum certified altitude of FL310 in only 20 minutes. Topped with 291.6 gallons, the 850 can travel 1,410 nm at normal speed and an impressive 1,585 nm at economy cruise speed of 252 ktas—all with a standard 45-minute reserve. Yet, the TBM can still depart short runways—requiring only 2,840 feet to clear a 50-foot obstacle under standard ISA conditions at maximum takeoff weight. The 850 comes equipped with a three-screen G1000 avionics suite, XM music, onboard radar (with 10-inch antenna), and capacity for 330 pounds of baggage split between forward and rear baggage areas. With a typical full-fuel load of over 900 pounds, the TBM comes close to a full-seats/full-fuel airplane. Daher-Socata estimates that the direct operating costs run in the neighborhood of $469/hour, with total costs of about $714/hour for 200 hours/year at $5/gal for Jet A. The average equipped price is $3.294 million, with options like SVT and optional pilot door extra. The base price includes a unique "Highly Extended Exclusive Maintenance Program" (HEEMP), which basically covers all scheduled maintenance for five years, including five annual inspections up to 1,000 hours total, so new owners pay only for fuel, tires and brakes for the first five years.
Pilatus PC-12 NG
It's indeed a "great big airplane," and one of the most versatile turboprops on the market. Powered by a single P&WC PT6A-67B flat- rated to 1,200 hp, the Swiss-made PC-12 NG achieves a top speed of 280 knots, and features better harmonized controls than early PC-12 models.
Range at normal cruise speed is an impressive 1,560 nm. Fuel capacity is 402 gallons, which yields a full-fuel payload of 1,209 pounds. Trailing link gear makes for easy landings on pavement or unimproved fields. The roomy cockpit features a four-screen Honeywell Primus Apex avionics system with an AOA indicator and a stick-shaker system. Just behind the cockpit, there's a clever folding enclosed lavatory to help with long flights. With "executive seating," the airplane has room for eight; however a "high-density" option allows seating for up to 11. For most owner-operators, the PC-12 NG really is a "take everything" airplane. The rear cabin is fitted with a 40-cubic-foot dedicated baggage space and a huge 52x53-inch rear cargo door that makes it possible to load really big items—like motorcycles or kayaks. The PC-12 NG is priced at $4 million.
Are you uncomfortable with just one turbine powerplant? Here are two twin-turbine options well suited to owner-pilots.
King Air C90GTxi
King Air C90GTxi | www.hawkerbeechcraft.com
For 40 years, the King Air C90 series has been a favorite among owner-pilots because of its excellent handling, roomy cabin, reliability and outstanding safety record. The new C90GTxi from Hawker Beechcraft sports winglets and elevates the C90 series to the next level of performance and refinement. Top the tanks with 384 gallons, load up 737 pounds of people and baggage, and travel a maximum of 1,236 nm with standard IFR reserves or 1,040 nm with NBAA 100 nm alternate reserves. The King Air square-oval cabin provides a spacious feel, with executive seating for eight with an optional ninth seat. In back, a belted lavatory enhances both passenger comfort and range. Next to the lavatory, 48 cubic feet of baggage area handles 350 pounds of bags, which are accessible in flight. On the wings, two PT6A-135A P&WC engines flat-rated to 550 shp produce a top speed of 272 ktas in the low to mid-20,000-foot altitudes. At the maximum certified altitude of FL300, the 5.0 psi cabin differential pressurization system maintains a 12,000-foot cabin. Up front, the capable Collins ProLine 21 avionics system with three screens makes navigation easy. Standard price is $3.67 million.
Piaggio Areo P180 Avanti II
Piaggio Areo P180 Avanti II
Pilots either love the looks or hate it, but no one can deny that the Italian-built Piaggio P-180 Avanti II is one heck of a performer. The secret is the clever use of three lifting surfaces—the rear wing, the forward wing and the fuselage—to dramatically reduce drag. With a top speed touching 402 knots, a maximum certified altitude of FL410 and a 1,420 nm IFR range, the Avanti beats the performance of a lot of jets. Add a spacious, stand-up cabin, unmatched fuel economy and a jet-like quiet ride for a compelling story. Power is provided by two rear-facing PT6A-66B engines driving five-blade props in a pusher configuration. Engine exhaust blows over the props, eliminating the need for prop deicing, producing a distinctive sound on the ramp. Usable fuel capacity is 418 gallons with a full-fuel payload of 1,350 pounds. A 9-PSI cabin-pressure differential holds a sea-level cabin up to FL240 with in-flight noise levels at about 67 dB—quiet enough for easy conversation.
Since the fuselage is widest in the middle, the cabin has an especially spacious, first-class feel. Optional seating for up to 11 is available with an enclosed lavatory in the rear. Up front, the cockpit is equipped with the popular Collins ProLine 21 avionics system. As a single-pilot airplane, the Avanti II is the most expensive and the most capable product in this category at $7.19 million.
Entry-Level Light Jets
Don't let the category fool you—these are real jets with serious traveling capability. The jump from a turboprop to a jet is almost as big as the jump from a piston to a turboprop in terms of the quality of the ride. It's quiet, it's fast, it goes high (really high—above 98% of the weather), and it's a whole new world when it comes to traveling comfort. Here's a look at three six-seat, twin-engine jets certified for single-pilot operation.
The successor to the original EA-500 VLJ, the new Eclipse 550 shares the same airframe but includes numerous enhancements over the original product. These include a fully integrated avionics system by IS&S that supports features such as synthetic vision, enhanced vision, TAWS, TCAS-1, ADS-B, color radar, radar altimeter and iPad data-entry integration. Auto throttles, which are new to this category of aircraft, are offered as an option. Big windows and side-stick controls create a very open feel in the cockpit. Powered by two FADEC-controlled P&WC PW610F engines each delivering 900 pounds of thrust, the 550 has a certified ceiling of FL410, a top speed of 370 ktas and a four-occupant NBAA IFR range of 1,125 nm. The 550 requires 2,394 feet at MTOW for takeoff, and can climb to FL370 in 25 minutes or FL410 in 29 minutes. Load it up with 1,698 pounds (251 gallons) of Jet A and carry 704 pounds of payload. The six-seat cabin is "cozy" with a 16-cubic-foot baggage area located behind the rear seats. Single-engine takeoff climb rate at 5,000 feet and ISA +15 is a respectable 697 fpm. The deicing system includes pneumatic boots on all leading edges. No lavatory is available; though trailing-link landing gear is standard. The EA-550 is priced at $2.695 million, with deliveries beginning in 2013.
The Mustang is the smallest and most economical Citation. Powered by two FADEC-controlled P&WC PW615F engines with 1,460 pounds of thrust each, the Mustang achieves a top speed of 340 knots and climbs directly to its maximum certified altitude of FL410 in 27 minutes. Topped with 385 gallons of fuel and 800 pounds of payload, the Mustang can handle a 1,150 nm trip with NBAA 100 nm IFR reserves. Balanced field length for sea-level takeoff is 3,110 feet at MTOW, making it easy to access most small airports. Trailing-link gear, anti-lock brakes and speed brakes are standard. The deicing system includes pneumatic boots on all of the leading edges and an electrically heated glass windshield. Two large external compartments in the nose and tail totaling 57 cubic feet provide capacity for a maximum of 620 pounds of baggage—golf bags and skis fit easily. The cockpit is configured with a three-screen Garmin G1000 avionics system that includes XM weather, onboard radar (with a 12-inch antenna), and options for XM music. The lack of control column pedestals combined with a short center console make the Mustang one of the most accessible and comfortable cockpits in the Citation fleet—even for tall pilots. The well-lit cabin features two folding tables between four leather club seats with audio entertainment outlets at each seat. A lavatory is concealed beneath a small jump seat in the forward cabin with curtains for privacy. The optional High Sierra Edition includes SVT, a special paint scheme, locking fuel caps, and an enhanced interior. Like all Citations, the Mustang comes with access to the worldwide network of world-class Cessna Citation service centers and a variety of prepackaged support programs. The base price for the Mustang is $3.198 million.
Embraer Phenom 100
Built like an airliner, the Phenom 100 is Embraer's first entry into the business-jet market, and they hit the mark. Somewhat larger than the Mustang, the Phenom 100 features a 390 ktas (0.7 Mach) maximum speed, a four-occupant range of 1,178 nm (NBAA, 100 nm alternate IFR range) with a certified ceiling of FL410. Twin PW617F FADEC-controlled engines produce 1,695 pounds of thrust each. Loaded with 419 gallons of fuel, the Phenom can take on another 780 pounds of payload. Board the impressive air stair to a luxurious cabin featuring an enclosed lavatory in the rear, leather club seating for four and an optional belted fifth seat. Up front, a three-screen G1000 Prodigy system makes single-pilot operation easy.
External baggage is split between a small nose compartment and a large rear area, together totaling 60 cubic feet with 419 pounds of capacity. Trailing-link landing gear, radar (with a 12-inch antenna,) deice boots and an anti-skid brake-by-wire system are standard. Speed brakes aren't available. Balanced field length for takeoff is 3,400 feet. Direct operating costs are estimated at $842/hour. The Phenom sells for $3.745 million.
The turbine Evolution offers impressive performance in a pressurized four-seat, all-composite kit aircraft. Powered by a single P&WC PT6-135A, 750 hp turbine, the Evolution turns in a top speed of 300 ktas. With an initial climb rate of over 4,000 fpm, it takes only 12 minutes to climb to the maximum operating altitude of FL280. Take on 168 gallons of Jet A and a payload of 837 pounds, and you can cover an impressive 1,133 nm at normal cruise speed. Comfortable seats, large windows and a 6.5 psi pressure differential make for an outstanding cabin experience. Behind the seats, a dedicated 39-cubic-foot baggage area has the capacity to handle up to 225 pounds. Docile handling and a Vso speed of only 61 knots make the Evolution a safe and easy-to- fly aircraft. Takeoff and landing distances are only 1,000 feet. The standard EFC900X avionics package includes the Garmin G900X system, a GFC7X autopilot and the L3 Trilogy electronic standby instrument. Kit pricing with the EFC900X package is $545,000 minus the engine and prop. A new PT6-135A engine, engine mount plus accessories and Hartzell propeller will set you back another $581,500. Build times are estimated to be about 1,500 hours, and some kits have been completed within 39 weeks.